Disney is one of our major educational resources. We live roughly 80 miles from Orlando, which makes the theme-parks an easy day-trip for us. As Florida residents, we utilize the annual pass deals – the weekday select pass is great for homeschoolers who can visit on weekdays and avoid the chaos that is weekends and holidays – and go frequently to the parks. One of our favorite time to visit Epcot is during the food & wine festival that runs from August 30th to November 12th, 2018. Both of my boys are super-foodies. They attend a local youth culinary school weekly as one of the learning activities (post on that to come!) and they are devout Gordon Ramsey followers. It may be my fault, I was in the food & beverage industry from age sixteen to twenty-four, working in high-end restaurants on Palm Beach Island. I also do a lot of food writing on the side. I have two passions: writing and food. The food part, I’ve seemed to have passed on to the boys – the writing part, not so much…
We love to travel around the World Showcase and sample foods from all the places we hope to visit one day. During the Food & Wine Festival, Epcot opens more than twenty specialty food kiosks that offer samples of food from around the world and more. Each food sample ranges in price from $4 to $10 (approximately) which allows you to taste many different foods for a nominal fee.
Not only do we get exposed to the rich pallet of tastes and smells from all over this planet, we get to learn about the history and socio-cultural facets each food carries. Disney offers many ways to learn about the history and culture of each “land” you visit. You can watch a movie about the different provinces of China, Canada, and France on 360-degree screens. You can explore ancient Mayan relics in Mexico and explore a revolving exhibit in Japan. Most countries offer some type of educational video, ride, or exhibit to help expand your learning beyond the “plate”.
The Food & Wine Festival also offers many culinary experiences such as cooking demos and educational lectures. Though most required an additional fee, there are some offered for free. Last year, we were able to watch a pancake art demo with “Dan Cakes” the YouTube Sensation. I even got my face re-created as a pancake!
The tips below are to help you turn your Food & wine visit into a fun, tasty, and educational experience the whole family can enjoy.
- Plan Ahead: You can view the different menus and culinary demos and lectures before you go. This makes it easy to plan your day. I cannot stress it enough – detailed planning makes Disney fun.
- Do some advanced learning: get some book and watch some shows in the countries you plan to sample, it will make the foods you try even more meaningful!
- Stop by The Festival Center when you Arrive: Stop by the festival center before doing anything else. Pick up some passports to log your sampling – it’s a fun and free way to make the day meaningful, all of us in the Pearsall clan enjoy it. Check out the stalls in the center and chat with the festival experts to make the most of your day.
- Share your samples: Usually, the three of share 1 sample so we can maximize our tasting. We divide each sample into 3 parts and taste. This way, we don’t fill up too fast.
- Take time to explore each country: Learning about the background of each food is part of the fun, take your samples and stroll through the streets of each country.
- Drink water: Don’t spend money on expensive drinks. Disney will give you free cups of water on request at any counter-service restaurant. Bring a water bottle and fill up at the fountains. You can easily save $50+ per visit -which is more money for tasty samples!